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Intangible cultural heritage

Traditions, knoweldge, craftsmanship techniques  
Photo: © UNESCO/James Muriuki

National Inventory

Since Austria ratified the Convention, the Austrian Commission for UNESCO has been entrusted with creating a National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria. Thanks to their unique qualities, each listed tradition contributes to cultural diversity beyond the nation’s borders and conveys the richness of Austria’s living cultural heritage in an understandable manner.
Applications are accepted throughout the year. For more information on the application process and the criteria for inclusion, click here.

Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

Local toponyms in the federal province of Tyrol

Local toponyms in the federal province of Tyrol

For over 2,000 years, local toponyms have facilitated orientation and communication for people living in Tyrol. The transmission of knowledge regarding names and locations is ensured via people’s presence in these locations, the work they do on land that supports their livelihoods, and their experiences as well as their maintenance of social relationships, as part of which such names are frequently mentioned. The approximately 120,000 place names used in Tyrol’s nearly 300 municipalities were…
The Dialect of Montafon

The Dialect of Montafon

The Montafon dialect (Muntafunerisch) represents a special case among Austrian’s German dialects. Embedded in Vorarlberg’s landscape of Alemannic-Swabian dialects, it is distinguished by its retention of so-called relic words. The presence of such words can be explained by this area’s settlement history: around 1300 CE, the Rhaeto-Romanic language was superseded here due to the immigration of the Walser people, but today there still remain around 200 relic words, figures of speech, and…
Austrian Sign Language

Austrian Sign Language

Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS) serves as the social and cultural foundation of Austria’s deaf community. As the mother tongue of deaf people in Austria, it is a crucial part of their identity. It is used all across Austria and includes multiple dialects distinguished by regionally specific characteristics. Although ÖGS has been legally recognised as a language since 2005, its users still consider themselves a linguistic and cultural minority.
Storytelling in Montafon

Storytelling in Montafon

The storytelling tradition in Montafon, a mountain valley in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg, remains to this day an important element of the community and is cultivated in everyday life as well as on special occasions. The narratives, ideals, and patterns of these typical legends and stories go back to the 19th and 20th century. The people in Montafon and numerous cultural initiatives actively contribute to the collection and preservation of local legends and stories, which since the 19th…
Songs of the Lovara

Songs of the Lovara

Songs are an important part of the cultural tradition of the Lovara. The name of this sub-group of the Roma people comes from what formerly was their primary trade: “Lovara” means “horse-trader”. Their songs are largely about family and community, but the role of the individual and the earlier lifestyle of the Lovara are also frequent themes. Moreover, the songs serve as a language-storage medium, as they contain typical phrases, metaphors, speech formulas, and even certain expressions that…
"Roman" - The language of the Romani people of Burgenland

"Roman" - The language of the Romani people of Burgenland

Roman, the language of the Burgenland Roma, is prevalent primarily in the Austrian province of Burgenland and represents an important component of the cultural and linguistic heritage of the Roma people. Roman is a variety of Romani that is spoken exclusively within the territory of Austria. Roman can look back on a 500-year-old tradition and is spoken predominantly within the family environment, but also among friends and other members of the ethnic group.
Toponyms in Vorarlberg

Toponyms in Vorarlberg

Because land parcels and fields are often located a great distance from farms and villages, their precise geographical designation was of great importance for drawing up contracts, creating route descriptions, and calculating taxes. Over a period of centuries, the resulting toponyms—place names—for specific locations and land parcels became an accepted element of everyday rural life.
Classical horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School

Classical horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School

To this day, the Spanish Riding School communicates the high art of classical horsemanship by passing it down orally from one generation of horsemen and horsewomen to the next as well as displaying it publicly in equestrian performances. Young aspiring horsemen learn valuable lessons both from their more advanced peers, as well as from the stallions themselves.
Telling fairy tales

Telling fairy tales

Storytelling is the art of entertaining people in a playful and intellectual way by recounting fairy tales. Fairy tales and sagas transmit the essence of the individual’s - as well as the community’s collective - cultural identity far better than any type of formal instruction.
The Ötztal dialect

The Ötztal dialect

The Ötztal dialect (Oetz Valley, Tyrol), with its 900 years of unchanged tradition, represents the strongest of all components that make up the Ötztaler population’s local identity.
Slovenian field and house names in Carinthia

Slovenian field and house names in Carinthia

Traditional Slovenian field and house names are key to understanding the economic, socio-historical and linguistic development of Carinthia and its surroundings. They form part of the cultural heritage of Carinthian Slovenes, as well as the German-speaking inhabitants of the region.